Plagiarism in Political Speeches: The Case of Michelle Obama & Melania Trump

Michelle Obama Copied Alinsky in a Speech. Melania Trump Plagiarized. Ignorance, coincidence or fraud?

Plagiarism, whether intentional or not, is a serious literary crime. If it doesn’t damage one’s reputation, it becomes a reason for which someone loses a job or earns expulsion from the college. Come to think of it. Instead of going out to collect necessary information for a write-up, you end up copying and pasting everything from the web, publications in library archives, and other sources. The worst-case scenario is that you end up claiming ownership for a material that is heavily unoriginal.

Now, as you think about students who hardly write from their own creative mindsets and how many times they have been penalized for failing to attribute sources of information/data, also think about how many times a politician tried to look smart by speaking like Socrates, Plato or Aristotle. The catch here is that plagiarism is no longer a crime that takes place within the realms of academia but beyond. Even politicians now need a plagiarism checker to get it right with their speeches without sounding verbatim.

In this post, we explore something that has now been verified by experts. Michelle Obama copied parts of Alinsky’s speech, did she? Also, did Melania Trump Plagiarize parts of Obama’s when campaigning for Donald Trump in last elections? Well, many experts have delved into the accusations to help explore any such occurrences. That’s up next for debate. Take a look.

Michelle Obama and Alinsky’s speech: What are the similarities?

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In politics, you’ve got to awe audiences with moving speeches. It is all about picking your words carefully and using them artistically. Michelle Obama, despite being referred to as one of the greatest First Ladies ever in America’s history, also has had a few shortcomings. More than ten years after her DNC speech in 2008, the internet hasn’t forgotten.  Bloggers were quick to point out that some parts of her famous speech at the 2008 NDC were curated from Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals.’

But did she know about it or it was an intentional-to impersonate one of the greatest extremists in America’s history-or she wanted to dupe voters into thinking she had what it takes to campaign for her husband, Barack?

The truth is that the words ‘…The world as it should be...’ were verbatim with those from Alinsky’s literary piece. Now, to understand it better, let’s take a look at excerpts from both ends.

Michelle said the following:

‘And Barack Stood up that day, and he spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about …the world as it is...And…the world as it should be…’

While she did attribute the phrases to Barack Obama, the latter, critics argue, may have never done the same when he spoke these words to Michelle. For more on her speech, you can check out this transcript from The New York Times.

So what did Alinsky’s write-up contain? Well, let’s have a look at this excerpt:

‘…the standards of judgment must be rooted in the whys and wherefores of life as it is lived, the world as it is, not our wished-for fantasy of the world as it should be…

It, therefore, goes that such is a phrase she may have read in Alinsky’s publication and even forgotten about it. Does it, therefore, qualify as plagiarism or auto plagiarism?

Well, according to, borrowing or copying other people’s ideas often cloud the seriousness of the crime. But on a serious note, plagiarism is a fraudulent act, equivalent to stealing and lying about it. U.S. copyright and intellectual property laws state that ideas, words or other forms of expression can be stolen.

Now, while Michelle attributed the above words to Barack Obama, but failed to give credit to Alinsky and that there were no quotations to indicate they aren’t her own; instead of going ahead to include them in her speech, her act of omission or commission amounts to plagiarism.

Plagiarism in Political speeches: A case of ignorance, coincidence or fraud?

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The Trumps have more than once got tongue lashing for their penchant for plagiarism. Theirs has been a case of political misdemeanors and misadventures, but as you would have guessed, politicians have their way around offenses.

Take, for example, Joe Biden, who has always had a problem with plagiarism. At some point in one of his speeches, Biden was accused of copying Neil Kinnock’s speech verbatim – an act believed to have killed his 1988 presidential ambitions. Biden’s problems did not start in politics because there was even more glaring evidence dating back to his days in law school.

Hillary Clinton’s no bank can be too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail,’ in 2008, according to several reliable sources, is not an isolated case. Hers are the words from John Edwards DNC speech. It did not end there. In 2018, Hillary was yet again accused of lifting lines from Bennie Sanders speech.

Is Melania Trump case different?

While the investigation into Trump’s ascension to presidency continues to stir controversies, accusations and counteraccusations, especially alleged links to Russian oligarchs, the U.S. first lady is an accused plagiarist. According to, her speech during the Republican National Convention is somewhat similar to Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC delivery. While observers point out that she did not copy everything word for word, there is a considerable match in theme, sentence construction and wording. Trump’s campaign senior communications advisor denied it, saying Melania’s writing team did it from the perspective of her aspirations about life, experience as an American Immigration and mindset. You can take a look at her speech as published in USA Today and make a comparison.